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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Break Room

7 Seriously Inspiring Career-Boosting Books by Black Authors

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You know reading can help you be successful. And while diving into any book will improve things like your concentration and communication skills, picking one that speaks to your career dilemma can help you gain new perspective.

Obviously, you shouldn’t limit yourself to one month out of the year for discovering a diverse set of voices, but now is the perfect opportunity to carve out some extra reading time and get started!

1. If You’re Letting Fear Hold You Back: Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun, and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

Odds are you’ve seen an episode of something Shonda Rhimes has written, such as Grey’s Anatomy, How to Get Away With Murder, or Scandal (though the list is longer than that). But unless you’ve been living under a rock without Netflix access, you know she’s been a fixture in primetime television for years. And you can imagine that, between her work as a creator, writer, and producer of hit shows, and a mom to three children, she was too busy to do much of anything else.

But, in fact, she was too scared. She decided to step out of her comfort zone and say yes to everything for one year. If you need some inspiration to break out of a stale routine and take more risks, this is the book for you.

2. If You’re Looking for Motivation: The Road to Redemption: Overcoming Life’s Detours, Obstacles, and Challenges by Lucinda Cross

Lucinda Cross is a leadership expert and motivational speaker who shares the challenges she faced in this inspiring story. She explains that everyone has a past and to not be so hard on yourself. When everything feels like it’s going wrong and you can’t catch a break, Cross reminds you that you’re resilient and worthy.

So, whether you’re having a tough time at work, or facing some larger challenges and struggles, this book is the helping hand to pull you up and make you believe you can achieve your goals.

3. If You’re Moved By Powerful Stories of Transformation: The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcom X and Alex Haley

According to The Chicago Tribune, this is a book that “change[d] the world.” While you know of Malcolm X as a brilliant—and controversial—civil rights leader, you may not know everything he had to overcome to become one of the most influential men of his day.

His life story embodies tenacity and devotion—and there’s no better way to learn about these things than from him.

If you loved Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, add this to your reading list.

4. If You’re Going Through a Period of Uncertainty: What I Know For Sure by Oprah Winfrey

Oprah’s list of accomplishments is extensive to say the least: She’s a self-made billionaire who’s won awards ranging from Emmys to Daytime Emmys to an Oscar to a Presidential Medal of Freedom. She owns a namesake television network and started a school for girls in South Africa. Clearly, she has some serious life lessons that she learned along the way.

When she launched O Magazine, she started “What I Know for Sure” as a column—and has since complied all of her stories in one place. It’s the perfect book to pick up when you’re in need of some guidance.

5. If You Want to Learn From Trailblazers: Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

You’ve probably heard of Hidden Figures, which was the number one movie at the box office when it premiered.

Based on a true story, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden are a few of the African-American mathematicians commonly known as “human computers,” who were behind some of NASA’s greatest achievements. They not only played a pivotal role in the Space Race, but also broke ground for the civil rights and feminist movements.

This is a book that’ll inspire you to put your talents to work.

6. If You’re an Introvert: The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl by Issa Rae

YouTube star Issa Rae hilariously describes how she gets through her life as an “awkward” introvert. She dives into the complexity of being black, a woman, and beautifully awkward. (And if this sounds familiar, it’s the basis of the new HBO show, Insecure.). Introverts will find themselves nodding along—and laughing out loud.

7. If Your Goal Is to Be Financially Successful: The One Week Budget by Tiffany Aliche

You know your spending habits maybe need a complete overhaul, but you also know you’re uninterested in reading dense financial advice. Self-proclaimed “budgetnista,” Tiffany Aliche, has your back. That’s because she wrote a book meant to help you jump right into managing your money—and she wrote it in a friendly, non-intimidating way.

Anyone who wants to do a better job managing their money, but doesn’t want to feel like they’re attending a financial lecture, will appreciate this book.

This list of books is a good start, but don’t limit yourself. Seek out podcasts, influencers, and articles to better learn from black visionaries year-round. If you need a place to start, don’t hesitate to tweet me at @Adi_Barreto.